How to Spend One Day in Orlando: Itinerary from a Local

Orlando is one of the best places in the nation to explore the best theme parks, making it a popular tourist destination in Florida. But if you only have 24 hours in Orlando, what should you do? Here are some ideas to help you decide how to spend one day in Orlando!

Orlando is one of the most visited cities in the United States. It is known for its beautiful scenery, fantastic theme parks, and other famous attractions on International Drive. There are many things to do in Orlando that will fit everyone’s budget.

One Day in Orlando Itinerary

First and foremost, Orlando is a city of attractions. You’re sure to find something to interest you no matter what time of year it is. From theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort to beautiful natural springs in state parks.

But don’t forget about the other unique attractions of this city. Lake Eola, which stretches for 3 miles along the heart of downtown Orlando, offers visitors a picturesque backdrop for weddings and other events. Downtown also has plenty of restaurants, shopping districts, nightlife spots, and more to keep you busy. 

Let’s go over the best things to do around Orlando, even if you only have 24 hours to enjoy the area!

Option 1: Universal Studios

There are many theme parks around that include roller coasters, famous characters, and lots of other fun things to do. Each theme park can be a perfect day trip all on its own!

Related: 15 Amazing Day Trips from Orlando You’ll Love

Visit Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure

Whether or not you were ever a fan of Harry Potter or read books, everyone can enjoy a day exploring the best places at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Head to The Hopping Pot to try the world-famous Butterbeer Beer or a draught beer like the Wizard’s Brew.

Head to the Leaky Cauldron or the Three Broomsticks for a delicious meal (likely prepared by the house elves). They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Take a stroll through all the shops in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. And take a picture in front of Platform 9 and 3/4!

And, of course, check out all the magical rides! While you wait in line for the ride at Hogwarts, you get to walk through the castle. It’s most fun exploring at night. The ride is highly family-friendly because the young ones and an adult can step aside in an area where strollers are kept, while the older kids and adults can go on the actual ride.

Remember that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split into TWO separate parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. You can easily ride the Hogwarts Express to access both parks, but you need to purchase a 2-Park – 1-Day Ticket.

Related: Things to Do in Winter Garden

Universal Citywalk

Right outside of Universal Studios, you can also explore Universal Citywalk. There are so many great places to eat here!

Universal CityWalk is a popular attraction in Universal Orlando, featuring exciting music and dining options. There are many shops and restaurants here, all of which provide a fun night out with friends or family. Grab a donut at Voodoo Doughnuts.

At CityWalk, you can enjoy various other activities, including golfing and catching a movie at the 20-screen theater. It’s one of the best places to hang out in Orlando!

Option 2: Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World Florida

Out of all of the tourist destinations in Orlando, Disney World is probably the most famous and most visited every year.

There are several theme parks here, including the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

Related: 27 Unforgettable Things to do in Central Florida

Disney’s Boardwalk

Disney’s Boardwalk is gorgeous at sunset. Photo Credit

Nearby, you can also walk up and down Disney’s boardwalk at the Walt Disney World Resort. You can’t miss this area! Take a walk along the boardwalk and enjoy live music and shopping in the entertainment district.

Related: The Best Biking Trails in Florida

Option 3: Disney Springs

A Mickey Waffle Cookie Sundae! @theweeklymouse

A fun place to shop or catch a movie! Head to Disney Springs if you’re in the mood for shopping. Enjoy some live shows and good food at Raglan Road, an Irish Pub. When you’re done, head to Splitsville for some bowling.

Related: 21 Fun Things to do in Disney Springs

Option 4: Downtown Orlando

view of palm trees in front of Orlando skyline lit up at night

Orlando’s downtown is fun to walk around, especially if you stay at one of the downtown hotels. Downtown Orlando has some amazing restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment. Take a walk around Lake Eola Park, where you can see the beautiful city skylines.

Get a Cup of Coffee

Why not start your morning with a morning brew? There are many vibrant coffee shops in the Orlando area, so check them out! Here are a few trendy ones in the area:

  • Austin’s Coffee
  • Craft & Common
  • Lineage Coffee

Visit a Brewery or Winery

There are two breweries located near Lake Eola Park: Motorworks Brewing and Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. You can also dine at World of Beer which features craft beers from all over the globe!

If you prefer wine, Eola Wine Company is a wine bar within walking distance of Lake Eola Park.

Option 5: International Drive

Related: 10 Charming Small Towns in Central Florida

Discovery Cove

two girls looking a pool in Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove is a theme park where you can play with bottlenose dolphins, a once-in-a-lifetime experience! In addition, you can get close to some very exotic bird species.

International Drive has so many fun attractions that it’s hard to choose just one or two!

Icon Park

ferris wheel at Icon Park in Orlando on International Drive

Icon Park is more than a theme park. It’s an entertainment destination with rides like The Wheel that offer views of the surrounding attractions, including Walt Disney World and Universal.

Icon Park has a variety of activities to keep visitors entertained, including Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Sea Life, and the Pearl Express Train. There are also over fifty restaurants to eat at, quirky bars, and cute shops to explore.

Beer Spa

hand holding up a glass of beer at the Beer Spa in Orlando

The Beer Spa package is a great way to experience a European spa experience. The place is clean and nicely decorated, welcoming to all guests. The hot tub, sauna, and hay bed are all part of the spa experience and make for a fantastic time.

Option 6: Outdoor Activities

There are several lakes and state parks around Orlando that you’ll love, especially if you want to escape the theme parks and downtown.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards at Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park is a great place to go kayaking or canoeing!

Wekiwa Springs State Park is about a 45 minutes from the Orlando airport. There are hiking and nature trails at this park, as well as natural springs. It’s charming to go swimming here if you want relief from the hot Florida sun.

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Driving 20 minutes northeast, you can also visit the Central Florida Zoo to see some unique animal species and feed giraffes.

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is one of Orlando’s most popular tourist destinations. It features over 100 species of plants and animals, making it an excellent place for families and visitors looking for something fun to do outside of a theme park. Visitors can explore the gardens, interact with their favorite animals, or take a break from the excitement to relax in nature’s beauty.

Downtown Sanford

Finish your day by hanging out in downtown Sanford. It has several quaint restaurants and breweries for you to enjoy.

Go for a walk on the Sanford Riverwalk and watch the sunset over Lake Monroe!

Option 7: Orlando Museum of Art and Gardens

Related: 9 Best Museums to Visit in Orlando, Florida

The Orlando Museum of Art

outside entrance to Orlando Museum of Art

Founded in 1924 by a group of art enthusiasts, the Orlando Museum of Art aims to inspire creativity, intellectual curiosity, and passion through its extensive exhibition of innovative art and ideas.

Here you can appreciate rich and eclectic works such as Mesoamerican and African ceramics and textiles, modern graphics, mixed media pieces, and American sculptures.

In addition to the permanent pieces, you will find different traveling exhibitions that spark your inspiration each year.

The Orlando Museum of Art is the perfect place to immerse yourself in a creative world, learn, and have fun.

Harry P Leu Gardens

sidewalk in Harry P Leu Gardens

This 50-acre botanical garden on Lake Rowena has many beautiful flowers and butterflies. This garden is very low-key if you’re looking for a relaxing day visit. The park was donated to the city by Harry P. Leu and his wife, Mary Jane, who lived in the majestic estate on the property. The couple traveled extensively worldwide and brings back seeds and plants from their journeys.

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    1. Laura,

      You are right! My next update I will include Epcot. My personal favorites are the festivals. What is your favorite?

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